Should I correct my mother when she repeats questions?

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My 80 year-old mother has dementia and asks me the same questions over and over until I want to scream. I usually just answer the question like it is the first time she has asked it. Should I say "remember, you asked me that a few minutes ago" or just continue to answer her questions ?

She also sits and stares a lot. If I tell her to get dressed because we are going to the store, I will find her sitting on the bed staring. If I tell her again, she gets very upset and tells me "I am getting dressed!". Dressing to go out for an errand can take two hours or more. Should I keep pressing her to speed it up or allow two hours to get ready to go somewhere?

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Lots of great responses to your question about repeating same questions and such over and over again. It is very taxing on the caregiver mentally with the repeating of verbalizations. Your best bet is to answer the question like it was the first time you heard it. If your loved one repeats something that is inaccurate try not correcting them. Think of it as dancing. They are leading you in the dance. Another way to look at it is to let go of your reality and enter their's wherever they may be. Park your reality at the curb per se. To help with the stress caregiving will cause try to find outlets for yourself. Look for a support group in person or online. Take time to do things that YOU enjoy. I wish you strength, courage and happiness with your loved one in their days gone by.
Deanna
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I want to pop in here with my two cents worth - as anyone who knows me knows I am prone to do. My current main client has Dementia, recently made worse by a fall she took in the night. I can count on a few things happening daily. She reads the same newspaper headline at least 20 times and asks me if I've read it, and she asks me about the weather, and how far my drive will be, probably 20+ times as well. She has Dementia. She repeats. It goes together. If she had Crohn's Disease and her stomach hurt - that wouldn't surprise me either. I wouldn't offer her super spicy taco soup if she had Crohn's, and I don't correct her, as she has Dementia. My answers are short and to the point, and very cheerful. I find it helps a LOT if I answer her with a big smile, with my hand on her hand. Something in the touch makes a different connection than just the words. I find different ways to answer the same question for my own sake. "It's about 35 degrees outside right now." "It's COLD!" "I think we may hit 40 today" "The birds need little ice skates this morning." I may say these literally ever 5 minutes from 11am until noon. I think of it as Ground Hog Day (the movie). But after several answers including touch, she settles down. She may even repeat to me, later "It's really cold out today, isn't it?" That's when I know I sneaked into her brain through a little crack. Also, since I tell her every single shift what I am going to do (stay with her all day while the live-in caregiver is gone, then take off for home), she says, almost on cue "And you're taking off!" when the caregiver arrives. It's hilarious. Patience, patience, patience. For her, every single time she asks it is the first time. Consider what you would feel like if you walked up to a clerk in a store and said "Where's the bathroom?" and the clerk shouted "AGAIN????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? YOU JUST ASKED ME THAT!!!!" You'd feel shot down and insulted, not to mention confused. Don't shoot the wounded! Don't shoot! Like the words in the song "I'm Not Me Anymore" say - "There's a thief running lose in my head. A thief who won't stop 'till I'm dead". Gentle words + smile + touch. You win. You'd laugh if you saw me get 5 inches from Rose's face and smile and tell her for the 1,000,973rd time "I'm going to be here until about 6, when Arlene gets back, and then I'm taking off!" Wait for it - the next question "So, how long does it take you to drive home?" ahhhhhhhhhhhh that's one I'll hear over and over and over. I say it 1,000 different ways. For me. Not for her. All she knows is I'm that patient person who comes in and we laugh a lot.
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I had experience with this, prior to Mom's dementia, as a hairdresser. I learned to change the subject, if that works. You can use the dementia to your advantage in some situations. For example if their is music on, ask who's singing the tune. Or raise a discussion of interest that the person has, like a vacation they had at one time long ago or a favorite movie etc. anything to distract that question. Or if it's a question of what is today's date, get them in a habit of looking at the newspaper or if it's what time it is get a clock in plain view. Routine is key and comforting to dementia sufferers. So if you make a schedule of your daily plans on a board an make it routine to look at it and have a clock in plain view
EX: 12:00 lunch ,music at 1:00, stretching at 3:00 etc. the schedule will make a focal point and make them feel less lost. Gives a focus and a purpose and if the mind is busy trying to remember or waiting for the next thing and this will be occupying the mind.
Remember one day you may be happy if a word is spoken at all, so smile it's only the same question to you. It only drives you crazy if you let it.
Now a story about this subject.......
On Thanksgiving Day at Mom's early dementia stage and the beginning of my caregiving 24/7 days ...Early Morning I was getting ready to stuff the Turkey as Mom sat in front about 5 inches from THE TURKEY while the THANKSGIVING parade was on TV also in close view. She asked "is it a holiday today? it feels like a holiday?" so I said ""yes It's Thanksgiving" well this continued for quite awhile REPEATEDLY back and forth just as I was about to loose it completely, my boyfriend enters the kitchen and she say's to him "Did you know it's Thanksgiving today?" "Happy Thanksgiving!" LOL I only wish I could have her that way again...although at the time not funny....way funny now!!!!
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She can't help the repetitions. She won't "learn" not to do it by being told she does. Keep on giving her brief answers.

Lewy Body Dementia has made my laid-back husband who was never in a particular hurry anyway extremely slow. I know that he can't help it. I allow a couple hours for his morning routines. If there is a need to have things happen faster, I help him. I say, "I am so glad that you can dress yourself, and you do a good job, but today we have to leave early for the dentist and I'm going to help you so it goes faster. He hasn't objected to this yet.

The bottom line, kaygwon, is that you are not going to change your mother. You might as well go with the flow and only take charge when it is necessary.
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konacaregiver, I've done plenty of layperson research. I've discussed my husband's dementia with his internationally acclaimed dementia specialist at the Mayo Clinic and internationally respected sleep specialist, as well as his award-winning geriatrician. Hubby is donating his brain to further research (when he is though with it!) We both care very much about getting to the bottom of this disease, even if it won't help the current generation of victims. I took a year off of work to arrange to use these care providers, to research, to haul hubby to endless appointments, to carefully titrate one drug at a time under a doctor's supervision, and to deal with the huge, huge stacks of paperwork for insurance and aid. I am now back working full time (from home) and also caring for my husband 24/7, through all the ups and downs of his roller coaster dementia. I respect Ruth's beliefs and practices, but I don't share them all. And I respect your right to make up your own mind about how to care for your loved one.

But, by golly, please do not casually throw around words like lazy, scared, uncaring, and too busy in front of me. Until you have walked a mile in my mocasins, kindly refrain from speculating why I'm not doing a better job on this journey.
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As far as the repeating herself, maybe you could just tell her the answer and not remind her you've already said it a 100 x's. That's what I do with my mother-in-law. She has a really good sense of humor about her lack of memory though, which is really nice. We laugh together about it, and just move on. I live basically in the moment with her. Whatever I tell her or we talk about she won't remember it 5 minutes after, but she remembers it for the moment. It's never going to get better, she's never going to change, she can't help how her brain works so what's the point of getting aggravated with her? Let it roll off your back or in one ear and out the other, whatever works for ya. And about the dressing, maybe you should be taking an active part in helping her get ready? She probably can't remember what the big fuss is all about anyhow, so just help her get ready and keep up the chatter. See if that helps. I hear ya though. (sigh)
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You know, I can answer half the question but would like to hear what other caregivers do because I find this kind of thing just as exasperating as you do. I realize it would be futile to inform Mom that she just asked that question a few minutes ago. It doesn't get her the answer and it doesn't make me feel any better. Now, with my Mom, I figured it was the Parkinson's that slowed down the whole process of waking up, changing clothes and having breakfast in the morning. I think we both know if we rush our mothers, it's just going to make for a very unhappy outing. For me, I have just resigned myself to the time it takes now to get things done and actually grateful Mom continues to be stubborn about wanting to do it herself. Looking forward to hearing how everyone handles the repetitive questions.
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Before my mother was officially diagnosed with dementia, she on occasion and then more frequently repeated a question to me or a statement. So, I would say " I just told you that" or " You already said that". I was not understanding what was happening. Once I found out, it no longer became a problem because I understood what was happening. It is true that the reason the same question is asked is because she did not "get" the answer. It did not stay with her, even for mere minutes. At first it drove me crazy repeating over and over what we are doing for the day, where we are going. Now, no problem. It has become a part of our conversations and that is that. You must understand that the problem is as much yours as your mother's and how you deal with it will affect both of you. She cannot change the way she perceives what is happening, but you can. Just take it a step at a time and keep a sense of humor. Occasionally, I get a smile with "I asked you that before, didn't I?" And, I smile too. I also find myself repeating words, phrases to others in conversation without even thinking about it. Hopefully people will understand. If not, who cares??
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No. Getting upset or angry about repeated questions just upsets you and makes her feel bad because she won't understand why you're frustrated and irritated with her.
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The best thing that I have done was to find this support group thanks so much - the stories shared and expert advice is very helpful
Rose
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